nullify To refuse to recognize a federal law. This action by a state is called nullification.
states’ rights All rights kept by the states under the Constitution. Supporters of states’ rights sometimes argued that states were not obliged to honor federal laws that they believed violated the Constitution.
11.7 The Election of 1800
The move to Washington, D.C., came in the middle of the 1800 presidential election. Once again, Republican leaders backed Jefferson for president. Hoping to avoid the strange outcome of the last election, they chose a New York politician named Aaron Burr to run as his vice president.
The Federalists chose John Adams to run for reelection as president. Charles Pinckney of South Carolina was selected to run for vice president. Some Federalists would have preferred Hamilton as their presidential candidate, including Hamilton himself. But Hamilton was not eligible to run, because the Constitution requires the president to be an American-born citizen.
The Campaign The candidates outlined their campaign issues early. Jefferson supported the Constitution and states’ rights. He promised to run a “frugal and simple” government. Adams ran on his record of peace and prosperity.
The campaign, however, was run more on insults than on issues. Republican newspapers attacked Adams as a tyrant. They even accused him of wanting to turn the nation into a monarchy so that his children could follow him on the presidential throne.
Federalist newspapers called Jefferson a “howling atheist” (someone who denies the existence of God). Jefferson, they charged, would “destroy religion, introduce immorality, and loosen the bonds of all society.” Frightened by these charges, some elderly Federalists buried their Bibles to keep them safe from the “godless” Republicans.
The Divided Federalists Meanwhile, Hamilton and his followers refused to support Adams because of disagreements over the president’s foreign policy. You will read more about this split in the next chapter. “We shall never find ourselves in the straight line of Federalism while Mr. Adams is President,” moaned Oliver Wolcott, one of Hamilton’s close allies.
As the campaign heated up, Hamilton worked feverishly behind the scenes to convince the men chosen for the Electoral College to cast their presidential ballots for Pinckney over Adams. Pinckney seemed more likely than Adams to value Hamilton’s advice and his firm Federalist principles. With Pinckney as president, Hamilton believed that he would be able to personally guide the United States into the new century.
Charles Pinckney, above, and Aaron Burr, below, were vice presidential candidates in the election of 1800.
11.8 A Deadlock and a New Amendment
When the Electoral College voted early in 1801, it was clear that Adams had lost the election. But to whom? Under the Constitution, each elector cast two votes, with the idea that the candidate finishing second would be vice president. All of the Republican electors voted for Jefferson and Burr. The result was a tie between them.
Breaking the Tie In the case of a tie, the Constitution sends the election to the House of Representatives. There, each state has one vote. Burr should have told his supporters in the House to elect Jefferson president, as his party wanted. Instead, he remained silent, hoping the election might go his way. When the House voted, the vote was another tie.
After 6 days and 35 ballots, it was Federalist Alexander Hamilton who broke the deadlock. He asked his supporters in the House to vote for Jefferson. Of the two Republicans, he said, “Jefferson is to be preferred. He is by far not so dangerous a man.” The tie was broken, and Jefferson was elected president.
In 1804, the Twelfth Amendment was added to the Constitution to prevent such ties. The amendment calls for the Electoral College to cast separate ballots for president and vice president. If no presidential candidate receives a majority of electoral votes, the House of Representatives chooses a president from the top three candidates. If no candidate for vice president receives a majority, the Senate chooses the vice president.
A Peaceful Revolution The election of 1800 was a victory for Jefferson and his Republican Party. But it was also a victory for the new system of government established by the Constitution. In other countries, power changed hands by means of a war or revolution. In the United States, power had passed from one group to another without a single shot being fired.
No one was more pleased by this outcome than the nation’s third president. “The Revolution of 1800,” Jefferson wrote with pride, was not brought about “by the sword.” Americans had learned that it was better to fight for power with parties and ballots than with armies and bullets.
Here, Republican women help Thomas Jefferson win the election in New Jersey in 1800. Women were allowed to vote in New Jersey until 1808.
11.9 Chapter Summary
In this chapter, you read about the beginnings of political parties in the United States. You used character collages of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson to learn about the political differences of the Federalist and Democratic-Republican Parties during the 1790s.
Both Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson served in President Washington’s cabinet. Their responses to the Whiskey Rebellion and the French Revolution revealed the sharp differences between these talented men, and between their supporters.
Hamilton and the Federalists believed in a strong national government run by wealthy and well-educated men. Hamilton also favored using the national government’s power to support business, manufacturing, and trade. Alarmed by the violence of the French Revolution, he and other Federalists favored Great Britain in its war with France.
In contrast, Jefferson and the Republicans looked to the mass of informed citizens to safeguard democracy. They championed the rights of states and the interests of farmers and planters. Republicans saw the French Revolution as a step toward democracy, and they attacked the Federalists’ support for Great Britain.
During the presidency of John Adams, Federalists used the Alien and Sedition Acts to attack the Republicans. In response, Republicans urged states to nullify these laws.
The emergence of political parties revealed a need to change the Constitution. The election of 1800 resulted in a tie between the Republican candidates for president and vice president. To prevent such a tie from happening again, the Twelfth Amendment calls for electors to cast separate ballots for president and vice president.
While the young nation worked to strengthen its political institutions, it also faced threats from other countries. In the next chapter, you will read about how the United States responded to these threats.
Thomas Jefferson, left, and Alexander Hamilton, right, led the first political parties of the new nation. Sharp differences existed between these two parties.
Foreign Affairs in the Young Nation
What does each of these symbols stand for?
Did you know that you are carrying a history lesson in your pocket or purse? You’ll find it on any $1 bill. Take out a dollar and see for yourself!
Look first at the portrait of George Washington. Americans still honor this leader as “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” But few remember that Washington defined our nation’s first foreign policy. During his presidency, Washington set principles that would guide the United States in its future dealings with other nations.
Turn the dollar bill over. You will see two circles showing the Great Seal of the United States. For thousands of years, governments have used seals like this one to mark their approval of important documents. Our nation’s founders thought that a national seal was so important that they began work on it the same day that they declared independence—July 4, 1776. In 1782, Congress approved the design we see today on our money.
The elements on the Great Seal represent the founders’ hopes and dreams for the United States. For example, the unfinished pyramid on one side of the seal signifies strength and endurance. The bald eagle on the other side is a symbol of national power. In one talon, it grasps the arrows of war. In the other, it holds an olive branch of peace.
The arrows and olive branch are perfect symbols of two foreign policy choices. The United States could be actively involved in world affairs, risking war. Or it could avoid involvement in other nations’ conflicts in the hope of staying at peace. Arrows or olive branch? Which choice would you have made for the new nation? In this chapter, you will read about four dilemmas faced by early presidents of the United States. Their decisions influenced the future of U.S. foreign policy.
Graphic Organizer: Spectrum
You will use a spectrum to chart the range of U.S. foreign policy from isolationism to involvement.
North American Territorial Claims in 1796
In 1796, the United States was surrounded by colonies that belonged to European countries. What problems might this have caused for the newly independent United States?
12.2 President Washington Creates a Foreign Policy
When George Washington took office as the nation’s first president in 1789, America was looking weak. The army that Washington had commanded during the Revolutionary War had gone home. It had not been replaced for two reasons. First, an army would cost money that the government did not have. Second, Americans had learned that a standing army could be used to take away their liberty. State militia troops, they believed, could handle any threats the country might face.
And there were threats. The new nation was surrounded by unfriendly powers. To the north, Britain still controlled Canada. The British also refused to abandon their forts in the Ohio Valley, even though this region now belonged to the United States. To the south and west, Spain controlled Florida and Louisiana.
Events in Europe also threatened the new nation. As you read in Chapter 11, in 1789, the French people rose up against their king and declared France a republic. Most Americans were thrilled by the French Revolution. However, when France went to war with Britain in 1793, President Washington faced a difficult decision. During its own revolution, the United States had signed a treaty of alliance with France. (Alliances are agreements made with other nations to aid and support each other.) In that treaty, the United States had promised to aid France in time of war. Many Americans were eager to honor that pledge, even if it meant going to war with Britain.
Washington knew that the United States was not prepared for war. Instead, he announced a policy of neutrality. Under this policy, the United States would do nothing to aid either France or Britain in their war against each other.
Before leaving office, Washington summed up his foreign policy in his famous farewell address. The United States, he said, could gain nothing by becoming involved in other nations’ affairs. “It is our true policy,” he declared, “to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” Washington’s policy of avoiding alliances with other countries became known as isolationism. For the next century, isolationism would be the foundation of American foreign policy.
George Washington was considered a hero even in his own time. Here we see Lady Liberty crowning a bust of Washington. The inscription on the bust reads “First in War, First in Peace, First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.”
neutrality a policy of not choosing sides in a war or dispute between other countries
isolationism a policy of avoiding political or military agreements with other countries; first established by George Washington
12.3 Dilemma 1: What Should President Adams Do to Protect American Ships?
Isolationism sounded good in theory. But it was often hard to stay out of other countries’ conflicts. No one knew this better than John Adams, the nation’s second president. Adams tried to follow Washington’s policy of neutrality. With France, however, staying neutral proved difficult.
The Jay Treaty French leaders hoped that Britain’s refusal to leave the Ohio Valley would lead to war between England and the United States. Those hopes were dashed when Washington sent Chief Justice John Jay to London to settle things with the British. In the Jay Treaty, the British finally agreed to pull their troops from the Ohio Valley. French officials viewed the Jay Treaty as a betrayal by the United States. In July 1796, the French navy began attacking American merchant ships bound for Britain. Over the next year, French warships seized 316 American ships.
The XYZ Affair President Adams sent three envoys, or representatives, to France to end the attacks. French Foreign Minister Talleyrand refused to receive the Americans. Instead, they were met by secret agents, later identified only as X, Y, and Z. The agents said that no peace talks would be held unless Talleyrand received a large sum of money as a tribute. (A tribute is a payment of money as the price of protection.) “No! No! Not a sixpence!” responded the shocked envoys.
The XYZ Affair outraged Americans. At the president’s urging, Congress voted to recruit an army of 10,000 men. It also voted to build 12 new ships for the nation’s tiny navy. The slogan “Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!” was heard everywhere as Americans prepared for war.
Meanwhile, Congress authorized American warships and privately owned ships, called privateers, to launch a “half-war” on the seas. During this undeclared war, American ships captured more than 80 armed French vessels.
As war fever mounted, John Adams—never a lovable leader—found himself unexpectedly popular. His Federalist Party also gained support in all parts of the country. The question facing Adams was whether doing the popular thing by unleashing the arrows of war on France was also the best thing for the country.
In this cartoon, American envoys meet with a French diplomat, depicted as a multiheaded monster holding a dagger. The cartoonist shared the very negative view of French diplomacy held by most Americans in the 1790s.
12.4 What Happened: Adams Pursues Peace
Adams knew that no matter how good war might be for the Federalist Party, it would not be good for the country. In February 1799, the president announced that he was sending a peace mission to France. Federalist leaders were furious. They pleaded with the president to change his mind, but Adams would not budge.
By the time the peace mission reached France, Napoleon Bonaparte had taken over the French government. The Americans found that Napoleon was eager to make peace with both Britain and the United States. He had already ordered an end to the seizure of American ships and the release of captured American sailors.
More importantly, Napoleon agreed to end France’s 1778 alliance with the United States. While the alliance with France had been essential to the United States during the Revolutionary War, it had brought nothing but trouble since then. In exchange, the Americans agreed not to ask France to pay for all the ships it had seized. This meant that the U.S. government would have to pay American ship owners for their lost property. To Adams, this seemed a small price to pay for peace.
Choosing the olive branch cost Adams political popularity. His pursuit of peace caused strong disagreements within the Federalist Party. These disagreements cost Adams and the Federalists votes when he ran for reelection in 1800. As you read in Chapter 11, Jefferson defeated Adams, and the Federalist Party lost much of its support. Over the next few years, Adams would watch his Federalist Party slowly fade away.
Still, Adams had no regrets. He wrote:
I will defend my missions to France, as long as I have an eye to direct my hand, or a finger to hold my pen…. I desire no other inscription over my gravestone than: “Here lies John Adams, who took upon himself the responsibility of the peace with France in the year 1800.”
Adams left the nation at peace and with no permanent alliances that might drag it into war. He had a right to feel proud.
President Adams believed the United States needed a strong navy. Congress approved the construction of 12 warships, including the Philadelphia, which is shown under construction in the image above.
12.5 Dilemma 2: How Should President Jefferson Deal with Pirates?
Peace with France did not last long. By 1803, France and Britain were again at war. As the conflict heated up, both nations began seizing American ships that were trading with their enemy. President Thomas Jefferson, who took office in 1801, complained bitterly that “England has become a den of pirates and France has become a den of thieves.” Still, like Washington and Adams before him, Jefferson tried to follow a policy of neutrality.
Impressment Remaining neutral when ships were being seized was hard enough. It became even harder when Britain began impressing, or kidnapping, American sailors to serve in the British navy. The British claimed that the men they impressed were British deserters. This may have been true in some cases, as some sailors may well have fled the terrible conditions on British ships. Yet thousands of unlucky Americans were also impressed and forced to toil on Britain’s “floating hells.”
American anger over impressment peaked in 1807 after a British warship, the Leopard, stopped an American warship, the Chesapeake, to search for deserters. When the Chesapeake’s captain refused to allow a search, the Leopard opened fire. Twenty-one American sailors were killed or wounded. This attack triggered another case of war fever, this time against Britain.
Piracy American ships faced a different threat from the Barbary States of North Africa: piracy, or robbery at sea. For years, pirates from Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli had preyed on merchant ships entering the Mediterranean Sea. The pirates seized the ships and held their crews for ransom.
Presidents Washington and Adams both paid tribute to Barbary State rulers in exchange for the safety of American ships. While Americans were shouting “millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute” during the XYZ Affair, the United States was quietly sending money to the Barbary States.
By the time Jefferson became president, the United States had paid the Barbary States almost $2 million. The ruler of Tripoli, however, demanded still more tribute. To show that he was serious, he declared war on the United States. Jefferson hated war. But he also hated paying tribute. The question was, which was worse?
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the Mediterranean Sea was filled with pirates who attacked American merchant ships. The United States paid tribute to leaders of the Barbary Coast states to prevent these attacks.
The Barbary Coast
12.6 What Happened: Jefferson Solves Half the Problem
As much as Jefferson hated war, he hated paying tribute more. In 1802, he sent a small fleet of warships to the Mediterranean to protect American shipping. The war plodded along until 1804, when American ships began bombarding Tripoli with their cannons. One of the ships, the Philadelphia, ran aground on a hidden reef in the harbor. The captain and crew were captured and held for ransom.
Rather than let pirates have the Philadelphia, a young naval officer named Stephen Decatur led a raiding party into the heavily guarded Tripoli harbor and set the ship afire. A year later, Tripoli signed a peace treaty with the United States. Tripoli agreed to stop demanding tribute payments. In return, the United States paid a $60,000 ransom for the crew of the Philadelphia. This was a bargain compared to the $3 million first demanded.
Pirates from other Barbary States continued to plunder ships in the Mediterranean. In 1815, American and European naval forces finally destroyed the pirate bases.
Meanwhile, Jefferson tried desperately to convince both France and Britain to leave American ships alone. All of his efforts failed. Between 1803 and 1807, Britain seized at least a thousand American ships. France captured about half that many.
When diplomacy failed, Jefferson proposed an embargo—a complete halt in trade with other nations. Under the Embargo Act of 1807, no foreign ships could enter U.S. ports, and no American ships could leave, except to trade at other U.S. ports. Jefferson hoped that stopping trade would prove so painful to France and Britain that they would agree to leave American ships alone.
The embargo, however, proved far more painful to Americans than to anyone in Europe. Some 55,000 seamen lost their jobs while their ships rotted at deserted docks. In New England, newspapers cursed Jefferson’s “Dambargo.” They also pointed out that embargo spelled backward reads “O-grab-me,” which made sense to all who were feeling its pinch.
Congress repealed the unpopular Embargo Act in 1809. American ships returned to the seas, and French and British warships continued to attack them.
President Jefferson ordered an embargo—a halt of trade with foreign countries—to force Britain and France to leave American ships alone. This political cartoon pictures the embargo (Ograbme) as a snapping turtle hurting U.S. merchants more than Britain or France.
embargo a government order that stops merchant ships from leaving or entering a country’s ports
12.7 Dilemma 3: What Should President Madison Do to Protect Sailors and Settlers?
President James Madison, who took office in 1809, tried a new approach to protecting Americans at sea. He offered France and Britain a deal: If you agree to stop attacking American ships, the United States will stop trading with your enemy.
Napoleon promptly agreed to Madison’s deal. At the same time, he gave his navy secret orders to continue seizing American ships headed for British ports. Madison, who desperately wanted to believe Napoleon’s false promise, cut off all trade with Britain.
Meanwhile, the British continued seizing ships and impressing American sailors. Madison saw only one way to force Britain to respect American rights. He began to think about abandoning Washington’s policy of isolationism and going to war with Britain.
New Englanders and Federalists generally opposed going to war. Merchants in New England knew that war would mean a blockade of their ports by the British navy. They preferred to take their chances with the troubles at sea.
Many people in the South and to the west, however, favored war. Like all Americans, they resented Britain’s policy of impressing American sailors. They also accused the British of stirring up trouble among Native Americans in the states and territories to the northwest.
Trouble with the Indians was growing as settlers moved into the Ohio
This lithograph shows William Harrison, on the far left, encouraging his troops during the battle of Tippecanoe Creek. After the battle, Harrison’s men discovered that the Indians were armed with British guns, which added to Americans’ anger at the British.